Cities are implementing “smart loading zones” to address the growing competition for curb space, driven largely by increasing online orders, ride-sharing, outdoor dining, micromobility needs and open streets efforts.
What makes the zones smart? These designated areas for delivery drivers to load and unload goods are managed by telecommunications and advanced monitoring systems that allow authorized drivers to reserve a space for a limited amount of time through a smartphone app or other mechanism. Other cities are increasing incentives for electric or human-powered delivery vehicles by implementing zero-emission delivery zones.
While such efforts can encourage more orderly curbs, cities have encountered implementation challenges including local business pushback, technical challenges and regulatory barriers.
Here’s what experts and city officials experimenting with curb management strategies say they’ve learned to date.
-Pittsburgh’s gradual SLZ roll-out
In 2021, Pittsburgh received a $100,000 grant from the Department of Energy to establish 20 smart loading zones, said David Onorato, executive director of the Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh, which oversaw the project.